Is African peer review losing momentum?

Kenya President Uhuru Kenyatta. (Getty)

Kenya President Uhuru Kenyatta. (Getty)

Kenya President Uhuru Kenyatta has called for an extraordinary summit of the African Union before the end of the year to discuss ways to revitalise the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM).

This is despite other leaders singing the praises of the 12-year-old system of self-assessment on issues of corporate governance and politics and the economy, amid concerns the mechanism was losing steam.

Kenyatta—the vice chairperson of the African Peer Review Forum—was speaking at the opening of the APRM meeting of heads of state on the sidelines of the AU summit under way in Sandton, Johannesburg.

Thirty-five countries on the continent have signed up for peer review, but only 17 have been assessed. Others have signed up, but have failed to cooperate, while others have been assessed but are unwilling to implement recommendations.

Angola and Malawi have signed up for APRM but are yet to submit to review.


Kenyatta proposed there be strategies to “rejuvenate the mechanism”.

“If we don’t strengthen the mechanism we will jeopardise the success of our continent,” he said.

Kenyatta said APRM “upholds the continent’s commitment to good governance” and that “the world is watching Africa” in this regard.

“We are the only region in the world that voluntarily agreed to go into self-assessment of member states,” Kenyatta said.

He said while some of the countries already assessed are implementing recommendations, “it’s been almost a decade since pioneer countries have been peer reviewed”.

Lesotho Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili also stressed the need to “re-energise” the APRM, saying there “should be no room for complacency”.

Mosisili said Africa established the review mechanism because she was “tired of being dictated to on good governance”.

“Today our common goal of deepening democracy and upholding the rule of law is being realised,” he said.

Political instability and unconstitutional rule were now the exception, said Mosisili.

Like other programmes of the AU, the APRM faces financial challenges. Chairperson of the African Peer Review Forum, Liberian president Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, reminded member states to pay their dues. The last peer review was undertaken two years ago.
Johnson-Sirleaf said the $12-million was owed to the APRM by member states.

When undertaking peer review, the APRM secretariat sends a team to asses a country and then makes recommendations. States are also encouraged to submit reports to the secretariat.

At this AU summit, Benin, Uganda and Sierra Leone are expected to present their annual progress reports on implementing APRM recommendations.

Mmanaledi Mataboge

Mmanaledi Mataboge

Mmanaledi Mataboge is the Mail & Guardian's political editor. Raised in a rural village, she later studied journalism in a township where she fell in love with the medium of radio. This former radio presenter and producer previously worked as a senior politics reporter for the Mail & Guardian, and writes on politics, government, and anything that gives the disadvantaged, poor, and the oppressed a voice. Read more from Mmanaledi Mataboge

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